The good news for the NFL is we've been so confused about the new interpretation of the league's helmet rules that we've forgotten all about how we don't understand its catch rule either!
The league is constantly changing rules (some for the better, others not at all). With that in mind, this month we tackle the 15 rule changes the NFL should make.
1. Remember when the league wanted to go to a schedule of 18 regular-season games and two preseason games? As fans we didn't seem all that inclined to support it. That was very silly of us.
In 2010, players balked at this idea because owners didn't want to pay the players more money since they were simply “converting” two preseason games to regular-season games. Now teams like the Ravens charge more money for regular-season tickets as part of a “variable pricing plan,” meaning the additional profit from an 18-game schedule should be shared with the players and everyone should be happy. It'd mean less of an awful football product and more of a quality football product. Why weren't we louder about this eight years ago?
2. For some dumb reason we still think head coaches should be officiating games, too. That dumb idea is dumb.
If an egregiously bad call is made during the final two minutes of a half, there's an extra official who can buzz down and say, “We should take a look at that.” If an egregiously bad call is made during the other 56 minutes of the game, the head coaches have to take care of it by challenging and risking penalty (loss of challenge, loss of timeout). Let's end that. And if you're worried about the length of games, let's also admit that replay shouldn't take nearly as long as it does and fix that, too.
3. Wanna build a new stadium? Swell! Put a freaking roof on the thing.
Remember when no one showed up to see the Ravens play for a playoff berth Dec. 31 last year because it was 18 degrees with a wind chill of 10 degrees? Playing in those conditions is unsafe for fans and asinine for a business. No more stadiums should be built without roofs. Spare me your “snow games look cool” takes. When it's 103 degrees outside for a Week 1 game, conditions are dangerous for everyone and you don't want to sit out in the sun any more than anyone else.
4. Game day inactives should be announced at the same time for all Sunday games regardless of when they kick off.
This is strictly for fantasy football purposes. Teams should have to release inactives for all games by 10 a.m. ET Sunday. It's a nuisance to try to pay attention to inactive lists while you're sitting in a stadium watching a 1 p.m. game to figure out if someone is playing at 4:25 p.m. It will never be a perfect science, but it should improve.
5. Create a group of Super Bowl host cities and make the rest of the cities the group of NFL Draft host cities. Rotate the events among the cities in those groups.
Places like New Orleans, Miami, Tampa, Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Phoenix, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Jacksonville can take turns hosting the Super Bowl. The rest of us can take turns with the NFL Draft. It benefits everyone. Make it so.
6. Rarely do they ever occur, but there's still no reason for ties to ever exist.
I'm still opposed to an overtime game being able to end without both teams having touched the ball, but the system is obviously better now than it was before. Still, ties in football aren't good for anyone. While playing beyond 70 minutes isn't ideal, double overtime would have been necessary exactly six times throughout the past 10 years. Just play on.
7. No 9 a.m. ET kickoffs under any circumstances ever. None. Zero. Period.
This isn't just because the Ravens got their butts kicked in London last year. It's because playing games at that time isn't good for anyone. West Coast fans aren't awake because it's 6 a.m. Pacific Time. Plenty of East Coast fans aren't awake either, or they might want to go to church. If you want to play in London, make it a night game (London time), which would be an afternoon or late morning game across the United States, depending on the UK start.
8. That being said, more games on national television is a good thing. How about Fox and CBS get Sunday afternoon doubleheaders every week? Or perhaps something even more radical?
How much better was the NCAA Tournament the moment every game was on TV in every market instead of only one game at a time? Imagine if Fox had the option of putting ALL of its Sunday afternoon games on TV at the same time? One game would be on Fox and others would be on Fox Sports 1, FX, FXX and so forth. The potential additional TV revenue would more than make up for the loss of NFL Sunday Ticket subscriptions.
9. I guess it's not TECHNICALLY under the NFL's umbrella, but the selection process for the Pro Football Hall of Fame should be broadcast.
It probably shouldn't be broadcast on TV, but it should be streamed online. The process is too secretive. Hall of Fame wide receiver Terrell Owens had every right to know what was being said about him during these meetings among voters. So does everyone else. The process should also be more inclusive, with as many former players as possible having a say.
10. Fumbling the ball through the end zone should not lead to a change of possession. Honestly, how was that ever a thing?
If you fumble the ball at the end of a 30-yard run and the ball goes out of bounds inside the 1-yard line, your team gets a first-and-goal. But if you fumble the ball at the end of that 30-yard run and it goes out of bounds through the end zone, suddenly your team loses the ball altogether. That's never been reasonable, and it shouldn't happen.
11. It's fine for a team that wins its division to be guaranteed a playoff spot. However, guaranteeing that team a home playoff game is simply illogical.
Why in the world should a team that potentially goes 8-8 be guaranteed the right to host a team that could have been as good as 13-3? Get your four division winners and two wild cards and then seed the teams based on record. Why is this a hard concept?
12. Since the anthem issue just won't go away, solve it by having all players stay in the locker room. Or, you know, (ducks) just don't play the anthem.
It's probably for the best to not really discuss this one any further. But either suggestion would solve the problem.
13. Owners, of course, have the right to move their team. But everything about the team's identity should stay in the city.
One of the best gifts the NFL gave Baltimore was forcing former Ravens owner Art Modell to leave all of the Browns' history in Cleveland. Why would anyone here want to recognize that? Of course, the same should have happened with the Colts years before, but you already knew that. If Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti wants to move his football team to Orlando one day -- I know I shouldn't even be discussing this hypothetical because it's the worst thought ever, but stay with me -- he should have that right. But they should be the Orlando Bath Salts or whatever, and they should have no claim at all to anything accomplished by Ray Lewis or Ed Reed.
14. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I've actually come around on Ravens kicker Justin Tucker's kickoff extra point rule.
The NFL considered a proposal by which teams would start at the 20-yard line rather than the 25-yard line if the opposing kicker kicked the ball through the uprights on a kickoff. That's a good idea, but the more I've thought about it, Tucker's original idea is better. In 2016, he suggested a kickoff through the uprights should be worth a single point. I laughed then, but he was onto something. Teams continue to try to find ways to keep kickoffs in play despite the many rule changes. Let kickers go for the point. Now all of a sudden a 30-21 game with two minutes left is a “one-possession game.” It's bonkers, but it's a winner. The man is more than just a kicker. And a dancer. And an opera singer. And a corporate pitchman.
15. And also, the Ravens should be allowed to let another team scout and draft wide receivers for them.
Look, I was totally serious about the other 14.
Photo Credit: Sabina Moran/PressBox
Issue 247: September 2018
Originally published Sept. 17, 2018